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Van Wyk granted bail, Esau remains in custody 

2023-12-13  Roland Routh

Van Wyk granted bail, Esau remains in custody 

Fishrot minnow Nigel van Wyk was granted bail of N$20 000 yesterday by High Court acting judge David Munsu with stringent conditions, while former fisheries minister Bernardt Esau was remanded in custody, pending his trial.

Munsu said the evidence presented so far paints a picture that Esau was an integral part of the Fishrot scheme, and it would not be in the interest of justice or the public to release him on bail. 

According to the judge, while time spent in pre-trial incarceration is a factor to be considered, it must be balanced with the seriousness of the offences alleged and the reasons for the delay of the trial. 

He further said the evidence presented so far shows a strong case against Esau. 

“The appellant (Esau) does not deny that an illegal operation took place, but claims that his name was used without his consent,” the judge remarked. 

He further said that Esau was linked to the Fishrot scheme by his farm that was bought with money obtained from Celax Investments, the company through which the alleged ill-gained funds were funnelled. 

Further, he said, Esau was instrumental in securing the MoU between Namibia and Angola, through which quotas were allocated to non-existent persons. 

While new facts were raised in the bail application, the judge said, it does not change the position on which bail was initially refused. 

Charges not overwhelming

With regards to Van Wyk, the judge said the charges against him are not so overwhelming. 

He said chances are that he will be exonerated on the corruption charges, as evidence presented shows that he was a mere employee of Oleya Investments, a company that belongs to Sacky Shanghala and James Hatuikulipi. 

The judge further said Van Wyk explained in detail every expense he made was on behalf of his employers, and it could make every difference in the trial. 

“The magnitude of his involvement in the offences and the severity of the sentence to be imposed on Van Wyk might not be as severe as for his co-accused,” the judge stated. 

According to Munsu, the four years Van Wyk already spent in custody might not even measure up to the eventual sentence he might receive on the charges he could be convicted of. 

The judge then granted Van Wyk bail and ordered that he must hand his passport to the investigating officer, should not apply for new travelling documents and report three times a week: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 06h00 and 20h00 at the Rehoboth police station. 

It was further ordered that he is not allowed to visit his co-accused at the prison, leave the district of Rehoboth without the written permission of the investigating officer or interfere with State witnesses, and he must attend every court session.

State advocate Cliff Lutibezi confirmed to New Era that the State will not appeal the ruling. 

Van Wyk was represented by Mbanga Siyomunji and Esau by Florin Beukes.

Esau and Van Wyk are charged alongside Shanghala, former Fish Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor) CEO Mike Nghipunya, former Investec Namibia (now Ninety-Nine) CEO Hatuikulipi, his cousin Tamson Hatuikulipi, former director of Namgomar Pesca Namibia director Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi with several counts of fraud, racketeering, money laundering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, theft, tax evasion and their alternatives.

It is alleged that they conspired when they changed the Fishing Act to give unfettered access to Namibia’s rich fishing resources to international fishing conglomerate Samherji from Iceland in exchange for bribes of millions of Namibia dollars. 

It is alleged by the State that they received at least N$300 million to give a competitive advantage to Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia. 

They are facing more than 40 counts, comprising racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft and money laundering, as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice.

On the list of people to be added to the charges is lawyer Marén de Klerk, who is charged as a representative of Celax Investments, which was allegedly used as the conduit to funnel millions of dollars from Fishcor to the bank accounts of the accused. The State is yet to extradite de Klerk from South Africa, as well as Icelandic nationals Egill Helgi Arnason, Ingvar Juliusson and Helgason Adelsteinn. 


2023-12-13  Roland Routh

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